When your child is arrested, your heart sinks. No matter how far they’ve gone down a difficult path, they are still your child, and you still want what is best for them. Unfortunately, once your child has been arrested, you know there’s little you can do to help protect them at that moment. Understanding what happens when police arrest a juvenile can help you move through the whole process more effectively and enable you to offer as much assistance to your child as you can. Below we discuss the basics of the juvenile arrest process.

How Long Can Authorities Hold Juveniles?

When juveniles are arrested on suspicion of a crime, they can be held for up to 48 hours without any further action. After that 48 hours, the court must make a decision about how to proceed. Sometimes, a petition will be filed to hold the juvenile until he or she can appear before a judge; other times, juveniles may be released into the custody of a parent pending trial or other mandatory court appearances.

What Happens Next?

After a juvenile is released, usually to their parents, the police or court may take a variety of next steps, including:

  • No further action. In some cases, the police may believe that time in custody is sufficient punishment for the juvenile, or the police may determine that they do not have enough evidence to take further action. In these situations, the court will release the minor and take no further action.
  • Request to return for further investigation. The police may release a juvenile to his or her parent or another guardian but also request that the juvenile return for further investigation at a later date.
  • Referral to a prosecuting agent. If the juvenile is accused of a crime and sufficient evidence exists to pursue criminal charges, police may refer the case to a prosecutor.
  • Notice to appear before a probation officer. If a juvenile is placed on probation, he or she may be expected to perform community service, to refrain from certain activities for a period of time, and to regularly check in with a probation officer.

Juvenile Court versus Adult Court

If a juvenile is accused of a crime and goes to court, it usually proceeds in a different manner than a similar case would proceed in adult court. Most of the time, individuals under 18 are charged in juvenile court. In some cases, however, the juvenile may be tried as an adult. Being tried as a juvenile has several key advantages:

  • Penalties are often less severe for juvenile offenders.
  • The court will make a decision based on what is believed to be best for the juvenile.
  • Juvenile records are typically sealed and thus won’t haunt children once they become adults.

As part of a conviction in juvenile court, based on the severity of the offense, how many crimes the child has committed, and other factors like perceived remorse, the child may be removed to a group home or foster care facility. Arrested juveniles may also face time in a juvenile detention center, or they may avoid jail time in lieu of required probation and/or community service. Often, a court will base this decision on the juvenile’s perceived needs, rather than on strict penalties for a crime, as is often seen in adult court.

Do You Need a Lawyer for Your Juvenile Case?

If your child was arrested, find a lawyer as soon as possible. A lawyer can help fight for your child and increase the odds of a positive outcome in his or her criminal case. The best way to help protect your child is to hire a good lawyer. If your child has been accused of a crime, call the Khonsari Law Group today at (727) 269-5300, or contact us online, to speak with one of our experienced criminal defense attorneys.